Someone spying on you through your webcam may sound like the plot of a terrible horror film, but it's actually a terrifying reality. It's not a sophisticated form of hacking but it is one of the scarier ones, because the hackers aren't doing it for financial gain; they're doing it for fun.
The hackers behind this intrusive scam aren't really hackers at all. They're known as Script Kiddies (or skiddies within hacking communities, who make no secret of their disdain for the group). Script Kiddies don't write any complicated software or code to get into your machine; they actually rely on you to do the damage for them.
Script Kiddies often use a simple phishing scam, sent directly to your email, to plant malicious software on your computer. It's made to look like any other email from an organisation, but once you click a link the software installs - with you none the wiser. They also hide their malware in popular torrents.
This type of malware isn't designed to steal your passwords or card details, (at least, not at first) but to give the sender remote access to your machine. It's called a Remote Access Tool, or just a RAT - and it's exactly as unpleasant as it sounds.
The Script Kiddie (or ratter) then has complete control of your machine. They can flip your screen, open your disk drive, open websites, browse your private documents and pictures and log your keystrokes to steal your information. Or, if they prefer, just turn on your webcam and microphone and start watching.
The scariest part of this hack is that it's almost impossible to know whether you're a victim. On private hacking forums, ratters swap tips and tricks for keeping the webcam light off, acquiring new 'slaves' without detection, and then share screenshots of their best 'finds'.
Although what these Script Kiddies are doing is illegal, the actual code and program is not; similar software is used by security agencies. If they've covered their tracks properly it's unlikely they'll ever get caught. And this kind of hacking is much quieter than a regular scam; unless the ratters trip up, you won't know that you're being recorded.
There are things you can do to make sure that you don't end up on one of these sites. Learn how to identify phishing emails, and don't use torrents; it's an incredibly easy way for them to access your machine. Install antivirus software, and do a full scan every month or so. And get yourself a webcam cover - just in case.
If you're worried about cyber-security, we can help. Give us a call on 0191 482 0444